Mama’s Gone Crunchy :: Holistic Health Assessment


Ya know when you’re checking out some random thing on a website and then you don’t really read those little tick-box thingies and wind up agreeing to having your email in-box flooded with advertisements for this and/or that related product or service?

Yeah. So do I. Much of my every morning is spent with one finger on one spot on the keyboard: Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete.

But every once in awhile, if you’re also like me in this respect, something in one of those annoying disposables catches your eye. Also just like me, you probably thought at least once or twice in January about being healthier, getting more fit, “cleansing,” juicing, or losing weight.

So apparently, sometime back in January, I DIDN’T delete this little gem from my mailbox, and by the end of January, I came across this:

Hello Amy,  This email is to confirm your appointment on Sunday, February 2nd, at 10:00 am with our Community Herbal Clinic. Green blessings, Lesley

Momma's Gone Crunchy

What the?? Yep, I had gotten curious and signed up for a holistic health assessment with the Florida School of Holistic Living. As my Orlando Moms Blog colleagues and readers understand about me, I’ve always sort of dreamed of being a “crunchy” woman and mama, but my efforts and dedication to doing so are often met with great initial enthusiasm but long-term failure.

Sure, I answered aloud to the screen. I surely do want to seek “personalized guidance on how to create greater energy, focus [better], [get more] sleep, and [live] a happier quality of life.” Yes, I certainly do. But *GULP* how much wheatgrass and hummus do I have to ingest to do so?

So there I was on the morning of Sunday, February 2, 2014, after having spent the month of January insanely juggling my regular, three paying gigs plus editing an additional 21-chapter book on art museum education on the side and — oh yes, adding to my resume the most awesome title yet: blogger — sitting down to a nice, warm, creamy cup-o-joe, when I suddenly realized I had about 15 minutes to speed-dress — brush teeth — swipe deodorant — try to tell two sleeping kids that I’d be gone when they woke up — put the dog in his crate — lock the doors — and get the heck over there for that appointment that seemed oh-so-necessary back on January 4th when the year and that tricky enthusiasm were so shiny and new. Shift to park. WHEW! I made it. Right on the dot. Make like a yogi and take a deep, cleansing breath. In with the good; out with the bad.

It’s interesting, entering that petite antique, porcelain-painted place. It’s sort of plopped right in-between Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue on Concord, directly across from the elementary school where my daughter goes to 5th grade, like a dollop of organic, cultured pro-biotic yogurt, topped with a sprig of fresh mint, which is the exact color of the walls just inside the ding-a-lingy front door.

I didn’t quite know what to expect, really — mostly because I hadn’t thought about it once since making the appointment in the first place. But also because honestly, I had an admittedly stereotypical picture in my head about who would be performing my little herbal assessment — a stereotype that was largely based on the feminist bookstore in that TV show, Portlandia.

Women and Women First Bookstore on Portlandia

Please don’t judge me. I was raised Lutheran. It sticks with a girl.

In some ways, the school is much like I envisioned: lots of drums, lots of goddess-inspired décor, lots of books on vegetarianism, psychedelic paintings, and soft, flowy fabrics draping every horizontal (and some vertical) surfaces. Recognizing the material and motifs in the table cloths as similar to some that I own, I found myself opening up. I also counted at least six books on the shelves that I also have in my home library. I thought to myself, maybe I AM doing some of this right after all! I kinda liked it there.

Soon, three very young-looking women greeted me after coming in from the opposite direction: Emily (the director of the school); Caitlyn, one of the herbalism students; and sunny, smiley Rachel, another student herbalist who was just so dear and sweet that she made me want to pat her on the head. (I didn’t; relax). Rachel never stopped grinning and studying every aspect of my head and face the entire hour we talked, like she was adoring me, almost — seeing something very clearly that nobody else would have ever noticed. Rachel didn’t talk as much as the other two, but once in awhile she would interject something just completely endearing, like “You’re so compassionate. I love your energy” or “making art is practical!” And at one point: “Can I give you a hug?” (I accepted). I am not exaggerating when I claim that she just might be the happiest person on the planet.

So we went over all of my health issues, desires, wants, needs, stresses, likes, dislikes, energy levels, habits, and openness to alternative ideas about health. I shared, they absorbed, questioned, listened, and Rachel smiled for about an hour. Then, these wise-beyond-their-years women who were probably about half my age or even younger, disappeared up the back stairway to consult about their herbalistic plan to transform my life.

They were gone a looonnnnnnggggggg time. 11:46 — 12:05 — 12:23. Tick tock. Tick tock. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. They were probably also thinking: What the heck are we gonna do with that hot mess of a woman in our living room? I kind of wondered if they had made like Elvis and left the building through the bathroom window. (I only knew they hadn’t because I had managed to drink five gallons of water while waiting and actually had to USE the escape route bathroom. While there, I noticed that the windows were, indeed, still locktight.) Sitting in that thinking spot, I started envisioning an onslaught of impossible suggestions they might make: grow all my own food in a garden, cultivate kombucha in the basement, dye my own clothes with organic vegetable extracts grown by local farmers.

Oh! They came back. All three of them. Imagine that.

Wellness Action Plan

This time, the admiring Rachel sat right next to me on the sofa. All of us began studying copies of my “Wellness Action Plan.” Rachel began. First up: Nourishment. Because I had gestational diabetes and have had recurrences of diabetes in more recent years (depending on how much weight I’ve gained or lost), these suggestions included meal ideas, Ezekiel or gluten free bread, and acquiring a potted lavender, rosemary, or mint plant to keep on my front or back porch. Apparently, even the mere presence of herbal plants can tell your body to release endorphins — and those are the hormones that make you feel happy and satisfied. Who knew? Reasonable. Certainly not impossible.

Next, Lifestyle with Caitlyn. Drink 2 quart-sized jars of water daily (add fruit and some Stevia if desired); drink a glass of water before drinking a glass of Diet Coke (I had admitted to my addiction) to help reduce the desire to quench thirst with ONLY Diet Coke; spend five minutes just breathing before going to sleep, and right when I wake up; put a time-out computer app on my workstation so I don’t sit in front of the screen for eight hours straight without getting up once (resulting in horrific cankles); draw or do other artwork at least 30-60 minutes every week; and ride bikes with Siggy at the middle school track at least once a week. Hmmm … somebody was actually listening to the realities of my life and NOT running away screaming. Impressive.

And finally, Herbals with all three, punctuated by the expert, Emily, who gave me “Rescue Remedy,” a little blue bottle with flower essences in it that helps relieve stress and anxiety with just four liquid drops on the tongue as many times as I need it throughout the day (smells a little bit like brandy if I’m honest);

The Rescue Remedy

probiotic capsules and prunes for “digestive health” (all ladies over 40 know what THAT means); Gymnema capsules to balance blood sugar, stop sugar absorption, and reduce carb cravings; and cinnamon tea to lower blood sugar and reduce cravings for sweets. Most of this stuff, surprisingly, I can find at Publix. Not too bad, ladies, not too bad.

If you, too want to have a holistic health assessment, you can! Payment was handled casually and a sliding scale is offered, with the minimum suggested amount being $25; but I am sure these young women will work something out if you’re on a tighter budget.

So, with one last smile and hug from sweet Rachel, I was on my way. She was proud of me for coming in, for considering herbals, for having an open mind. I felt a little silly taking advice from people half my age, but honestly, they had done their homework. They were professional, compassionate, and genuine. So if these small changes — plus a few flower essences and some cinnamon sticks added to my tea — can get me one step closer to being a little more granola and a little less Big Mac, then sign me up!


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